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SHARON AS JUDAS GOAT: Leading The Jews Out Of The Promised Land
by Yoram Shifftan and Bernice Lipkin
Ariel Sharon was elected over his opponent, Abner Mitzna, because Israelis no longer believed in the Oslo Accord. Thanks to a lenient Israeli Government, the Palestinian Authority (PA) was in control of most areas in the territories inhabited by Arabs - but it had done nothing about promoting peace. It had, in fact, done just the opposite - the Palestinian Arab leadership had spent the Oslo years inculcating hatred of Israel in their young and giving them practice in how to kill Jews. Israel had turned a blind eye.
At Camp David in July 2000, Barak escalated the concessions Israel would make. Without input from Israeli public opinion, he announced Israel was willing to turn over Gaza and most of Samaria and Judea (the West Bank of the Jordan), parts of Jerusalem and religious sovereignty over the Temple Mount to the PA. All the PA had to do was to renounce further hostility (as if that hadn't been part of Oslo). Nevertheless, Yassir Arafat queered the deal, preferring more warlike ways to gain control of the territory. He started the second intifada in September 2000.
Israelis repudiated Prime Minister's Barak's insane generosity in the next election in February 2001, when they elected Sharon, who made it clear there would be no more freebies to the Arabs without a serious change in their behaviour.
Sharon won again in January 2003 against Amram Mitzna, who, like Barak, was willing to give up territory and encourage a Palestinian state. Mitzna went further than Barak - he made the ludicruous suggestion that if the Arabs didn't want to participate, Israel would go it alone and just leave Gaza and build a separation fence to separate Israel "proper" from the West Bank.
So how is it that after a short period of acting as a responsible leader in protecting his people, Sharon started meaningless gestures of retaliation against Arab terrorism? This only encouraged more sophisticated acts of terror. And eventually he adopted Mitzna's position.
The debbil made me do it
Last month, Sharon told his ministers (Haaretz, May 31, 2004) that if the government would not accept his plan, this would cause a deep political crisis with the United States, with immediate and severe consequences.
In actuality, the US administration - excluding the State Department, of course - was cool to his proposed surrender to terror in the midst of George Bush's war on terror. The commentators all talked about the contradiction of the Bush principle inherent in Sharon's surrender. The American government also said that a retreat should be a part of a mutual agreement and part of the Road Map.
What Sharon-Olmert presented as Bush's letter of concessions (May, 2004) were some recycled promises - the American government has already reneged on many of them. Until Bush's Rose Garden speech (June 24, 2003), all US administrations were against a Palestinian state. In fact in the Oslo Accord, it was only raised as a possibility (We are not even sure if it was even raised formally in the written accord or it was only an oral doctrine). In other words, the prospects of a Palestinian state were only raised in the Oslo Accord, and imposed on the Americans by the Israeli initiators of Oslo. (Although it may be that these Israeli Oslo-pushers were being run by the European Union.) So it is a hypocrisy and contradiction to boast of the American concessions, when the Israelis themselves already gave much more away.
It was Sharon himself who formalized Israel acceptance of a Palestinian state by accepting the Road Map (something that was not in Oslo). So he cannot say that he was already obliged to a Palestinian state because of earlier commitments of the Peres (Labor) administration. He went much further than Peres.
Had Sharon been sincere about coping with American pressure instead of inviting and creating it, he would have opposed the Road Map and reminded Bush about previous American presidents who committed themselves against a Palestinian state. He would have allowed the official representatives of Israel to refute in public the lie that the settlements are illegal - the sharp end of the attack on Israel - and thus reduce international pressure on Israel to retreat. He would invoke the importance of being in the areas under discussion to fight and deter terrorism, to collect information, to defend Arabs who collaborate with Israel, and to discern between the innocent and the terrorist.
He would emphasize that a military presence without a civilian presence would be technically more difficult and also would appear colonial in nature and, as such, objectionable. He would recall the report of the American Chiefs of Staff during the Johnson administration, which said that the whole of Judea, Samaria and Gaza (Yesha) is essential for the "secure borders" called for in United Nations resolution 242. He would emphasize the importance of the nearby Arab population as a deterrent against the use of non-conventional weapon. He would say that a retreat would only decrease the strategic depth of a country that is already minuscule. He would emphasize that countries like India, Turkey and others will have less motivation to cooperate with a country that is so small that you cannot even write its name on a map of the Middle East.
Had Sharon been sincere about coping with American pressure he would shift the focus to the geography of ArabLand. He would allow Israeli representatives to invoke in public some fundamental data such as the enormous Arab land area and their natural resources compared to the minicule area of Israel, including the territories. He would allow then to emphasize the non-existence of a separate Palestinian nation, according to the Palestinian themselves. He would encourage official Israeli representatives to mention the existence of Jewish refugees from Arab countries and the property they left behind. He would stop pretending that a real peace - as distinct from a peace based on deterrence - is ever possible.
The demographic threat
The whole of the Zionist phenomenon was based on settlement of the land and was never deterred by nearby Arab presence; although, admittedly, there were nowhere as many Arabs around, until the Jews who made aliyah and England began to provide economic opportunities for them. And there is no precedence in all of Jewish history of a Jewish government uprooting Jewish settlements, including a (re)settlement like Kfar Darom, which fell in the War of Independence and was reconstituted.
Cutting away Yesha will not solve the demographics problem; Arabs breed at a phenomenal rate. Thanks to Israeli medicine, Israeli Arab children now survive infancy. So the demographic problem is acute and isn't solved by giving away Yesha.
He would point out that there are other ways of solving the demographic problem. If transfer is respectable for Jews, it's respectable for Arabs. The Arabs, both in Israel and the territories, could be transferred to some small portion of the land controlled by the Arabs, which would give them more land than they now have, while not making a dent in the land mass controlled by the Arabs.
The Government has used the expediency argument - 'never mind what the law is, the political reality is we can't keep the settlements.' A statement like Sharon's: "those that delude themselves that in the current political circumstances prevailing in the world today, somebody in the world, including the U.S., will support that Jews will be able to live in all of Eretz Israel, is dreaming, mistaken and misleading" (translation from Yediot Achronot, 24.2.2004) sounds hypocritical. Is the demolition of the settlements inevitable or have Sharon and the prime ministers before him contributed to this possibility? Beginning with the Oslo process, the government of Israel has forbidden its official representatives to declare, whereever and whenever they have the opportunity, that the settlements are legal.
The Arabs and their friends can focus on the supposed "illegality," conscious that whatever they say, they won't be challenged. It is a logical contradiction to invoke world opinion and external pressure as the reason for dismantling settlements, but not allow the country's diplomats to discuss international law. World public opinion can only assume that if Israeli representatives don't argue against the Arab statements, the Arabs have the right of it.
The importance of territorial contiguity
Sharon and Olmert also argue that evacuation is desirable for democratic reasons. But this assumes two things: (1) that the principle of democracy (one man one vote) requires territorial continuity - so an Arab can't live in Gaza and vote in Amman; and (2) all Arabs within Israel are entitled to vote. For 19 years Mount Scopus was an Israeli territory encircled by Jordanian territory. The UK spread not only across the water to Northern Ireland and to Gibraltar, but to the Falkland Islands in the other end of the world. This argument is enough to refute the Sharon-Olmert thesis. The second assumption has not been tested - although there are many countries where birth doesn't automatically confer citizenship. The Arabs in Western Palestine do not serve in the IDF so they have not earned the right to vote on the Israeli national level.
Contrariwise, Israeli Arabs invoke the principle of contiguity in an interesting fashion. In Jerusalem, they argue that Jews must not be allowed to encroach into areas where Arabs predominate. In the same breathe, they argue that Jews should not prevent them from linking areas that are Arab, even if that means trampling on environmental plans governing further growth in the inbetween segments. Using money from the neighboring Arab states, they acquire Jewish property; they build legally and illegally; and they continue to squat in Jewish-owned property.
The willingness of Sharon to evacuate Gaza or parts of Judea and Samaria - some 250,000 Jewish citizens of Israel live in Yesha - has to be compared to the willingness of the UK to give up control of Scotland, or France over the Basque region. This should mean internal discussions spreading over many years before such a fundamental decision is reached. In fact, in most countries it is considered treason to contribute to the transfer of the land of the state to a foreign power, let alone a foreign power that is an enemy.
For the UK, even a faraway part of its national entity such as the Falkland Islands was judged worthwhile to send a whole Armada at enormous cost and sacrifice. And here Sharon contemplates giving away national land at Israel's doorstep. Even Kfar Darom that fell in the War of Independence and was resurrected is to be evacuated! Can one imagine a better reward and encouragement for terrorism?
Imagine the degree of demoralization and confusion, the irreversible loss of morale and pioneering spirit that the ordinary Israeli citizen will suffer.
His belief that secular Jews care less for Jewish history and religion than for 'peace'
Any other country, given Israel's history, would rightly and passionately claim Yesha. It is the historic homeland of the Jews. It is the Biblical heartland of Israel, and as such, is holy to Jews and Christians. Moreover, Jews maintained a foothold in Israel through the many centuries they were not the governing power. No country 'owned' Yesha after the Ottomans - Jordan's 19-year control of Samaria and Judea was not acknowledged by most countries. Further, the Jews won Yesha when repelling Arab invaders from neighboring countries. And, most importantly, the entire area called Palestine by the British was destined for a Jewish homeland; and this intent was framed into international law.
The secular government of Israel - both Labor and Likud - has concealed or weakly stated that Israel has the right - as it does - according to international law to sovereignty in all of Western Palestine. The new patriotic Zionists in Yesha are downrated by the kibbutz-grown secular descendants of the earlier Zionists. A transfer of Jews is made easier and more acceptable when ownership of Yesha is not asserted.
The concealment for many years from the Israeli population that Palestinian incitement continued after the signing of the Oslo peace agreement helped to remove the label of an enemy from "Palestinian", and thus contributes to reducing resentment at transferring national land to the enemy. And of course, the Leftists and revisionist historians who controlled public education for many years fostered the belief that "Palestinians" have nationalist claims vastly superior to Jewish claims. Generations were taught without a mention of the existence of the League of Nations. Jewish rights authorized by the League Mandate were not taught at all. So even 'educated' Israelis are ignorant and many innocently believe the erroneous, foreign and home-produced, anti-Jewish propaganda.
The irony is that in other places in the world, where there are no special Jewish rights according to international law like those that exist in Palestine, the singling out of Jews for a transfer would be considered racist, anti-Semitic and illegal. Imagine for example her majesty's government decreeing that all the Jews and only the Jews in Cambridge and Oxford will have to evacuate these towns and move to other parts of the country!
To appreciate the enormity of what Sharon-Olmert are contemplating - in giving up land that rightfully belongs to Israel - we have to remember that ceding national rights that have been enshrined in international law for nearly 100 years will be a fateful irreversible act. In a normal democracy this would not be done at all, or only after many internal discussions over many years. Sharon's way of immediately discussing his plan with foreign leaders, before a proper discussion in his own government, is undemocratic. If Sharon wants to initiate such an act, especially in the middle of a terror campaign, he should, at the very least, put forward substantial arguments and allow enough time for a substantial discussion. Instead, he creates artificial urgency. All his statements are based only on his authority and are unsubstantiated. In fact, they are often contrary-to-fact.
Instead of pulling the Israeli people together and giving them both a sense of the danger they are in and how, with common purpose and with patriotic sacrifice, they can overcome the danger - instead of being Churchillian - Sharon has produced indecisiveness.
There is passivity all-round and a lack of effectiveness both on the ground and in Hasbara (propaganda, education, argument presentation). Suicide bombings such as in the Jerusalem Sbaro pizzeria or in the dolphinarium in Jaffa barely produced a reaction by the Government. It was not until the Passover Park Hotel terror attack in Natanya which killed 29 that action was taken - and that was less than what was warrented.
Defeatism, as expressed by a lack of decisive military action, is compounded by the intention to dismantle Yesha settlements, which have been developed by three generations of Jews who invested sweat equity into what was a desolate, rock-hewn area, because they knew it to be important to Israel as a whole. Sharon himself championed these settlement towns for much of his life. In April, 2002 in an interview in Ha'aretz, he emphasized that Netzarim in Gaza was necessary "to ensure that no heavy war equipment is being unloaded at the port of Gaza."
If something has changed, it is only the greater value of these settlements in view of the increase threat of WMD (Weapon of Mass Destruction), because such Jewish settlements, with Arab settlements around them, may serve as a deterrent against the use of such WMD. Territorial separation between Jewish and Arab settlements will substantially increase the danger of actual use of such weapons. (Unless, of course, Iran is willing to kill a large number of Arabs to get rid of Israel by nuclear means.)
So why are Sharon and his people doing what they're doing?
Is he intimidated by outside pressure?
One could say concealing the legality of the settlements serves the interests of those foreign powers - the EU, the UN - that want the dismantling of the settlements. William Burns of the State Dept has already signalled that cutting a part out of Jerusalem to give to the Palestinians is in the works. Concealing the legality of the settlements makes it easier to dismantle settlements in the face of public opinion in Israel and abroad.
There is the intervention of foreign bodies and governments that often can buy and bribe Israeli politicians and "intellectuals" in all sorts of direct and indirect ways, including paying a salary to Yossi Beilin, front man for the Geneva Accords.
Sharon has bought into the Road Map. True, he had some demurrals, which were ignored and which were dropped from discussion. Forcing Jews out of Yesha would facilitate the Arabs taking over the territory, without the Arabs being forced to abstain from violence against the Jews.
The Arab vote
There is a need for Israeli politicians from both sides to court the Israeli Arabs, some 20% of the population, who side with their Palestinian brothers. They do not serve in the army but do have full voting right in the national level - an anomalous situation.
The early Zionists hoped to bring the Arab population into full participation and dedication to the State - rather like what happens to the different immigrant groups when they become Americans. In a version of affirmative action, Arab interests were promoted. After years of conditioning, Arabs are held more worthy of respect than Jews. Whether Labor or Likud is in power, there is governmental and judicial catering to Arabs and left-wingers balanced by bullying and illegal harassment of right-wingers. A Jew who printed 'No Arabs - No terror' on T shirts was brought to trial; rabble-rousing by Israeli Arab politicians who actively encourage terrorism is sanctioned.
Israeli Arab aggression is particularly bad in Haifa because of its large Arab minority. This aggression is often ignored by the police and the judicial system. In a recent example, three Meretz (extreme left) Arabs in Haifa attacked two Jewish doctors and broke their faces. The attack was severe enough to incapacitate the victims for life, yet for six years the police and the judiciary system tried to delay the case.
In contrast, administrative arrests of right-wing activists for long periods without bringing charges against them is not uncommon. The case of Noam Federman from Yesha is a case in point. The Government has attempted to block him from exercising his role as knowledgeable leader in Yesha by holding him in 'administrative detention' off and on for years. The creation of an atmosphere of intimidation against peaceful right-wing activists by various arrests and inquiries are carried out by Israeli police and secret service. This has also included the brutal removal from her house of a widow and her five children - The widow had just lost her husband to terrorists. The house was immediately demolished, whereas it can take years to persuade the government to demolish an empty house used by Arab snipers to kill motorists. The list of harassing settlers and their supporters is long.
To sharpen the contrast, consider the case of the Jewish owner of Gilad Farm in Samaria. He was not allowed to farm his land because - supposedly - of a missing signature on the paper transferring his land from Jordanian to Israeli control. But the Government refused to take action when Arabs illegally built on another piece of land he owns. (See "The Settlements Revisited," http://www.think-israel.org/afsitrip.html).
The undue influence of Marxists who control much of education, business and the army
Psychological warfare and aggressive powerplays by Marxists operate in Israel. Percentage-wise, they are relatively few in number, but Israeli Marxists - Lenin's fools - abound in academia and literary circles and have positions of influence in Israeli politics. Their psychological warfare also works on the principle that if you tell a victim of aggression many times that it is his fault - it is a known tactics of anti-Semites to blame the Jews for their own suffering - he ends up believing it. This is an absurd version of the Stockholm syndrome since we are dealing with the most moral army and nation in the world.
Good old-fashioned corruption
Officials in the PM's immediate circles do business with the other side. It was reported that Dov Weisglass, chief of staff of Sharon's office, had a business interest in a Jericho casino with a PA dignitary. Yossi Ginosar, ex-Mossad dignitary, ran Arafat's accounts and was caught in a money laundering scheme. At the same time that he personally did business with the Palestinian leaders, he was an envoy of the Israeli PM to Arafat. The conflict of interest is glaring. A tendency to ignore Palestinian violations is an understandable result of such affinities and conflict of interests.
Related to the above - and another form of corruption - is the speculation that Sharon's out-of-character behaviour, contradicting his life work, is based on the need to divert attention from his family's judicial problems, and on a need to appease the judiciary, which is often left-wing, by dismantling settlements. His deputy, Ehud Olmert, may also be involved in the Greek Island affair.
Sharon's knowledge that he wouldn't ordinarily do well in politics
Sharon was elected for his perceived military prowess, important in fighting Arab aggression. In the June 2002 issue of Nativ, there is an article by Jane Kastner, an American public relation consultant, that specializes in public relation for senior politicians. She writes that Sharon and Benjamin Ben Eliezer would not have been elected to high office in any Western-type democracy - an awkward physical appearance is unsuitable in this age where TV appearance counts a great deal. In normal times Sharon would not be a natural choice for PM, even without the unabating hatred felt towards him from the Left. But his unparalleled (already two) successes in the elections came not in normal times but when the nation was already bleeding. And in the collective memory of the nation, Sharon was the warrior of the hour. A decisive victory on terror leading to peace would, by this reasoning, be bad for Sharon. The nation will have no use for his supposed forte and his disadvantages will come to the fore. So from this point of view it pays Sharon not to be decisive and let the nation go on bleeding.
Logical contradictions, lack of consistency and determination, and self-defeating and zigzag policies are the hallmarks of the current Israeli administration. Aside from his bullying and corrupting his own party, these are several ways he promotes a retreat from Yesha. These are mostly hand-me-downs from previous administrations.
Ineffective response to Arab propaganda
Crucial facts have been kept from the public, probably starting with the desire to see Oslo succeed. David Bar Ilan, the Chief Press Officer of PM Netanyahu, was not able to let the nation know, via Haaretz, Yediot and Maariv, that
Arabs have a simple mantra that they have repeated at every occasion the past few years: 'Israel is occupying the land that has belonged to the Palestinian people from time immemorial and the poor weak Palestinians are entitled to regain their land by any means, fair or foul.' They assert that international law is on their side.
What do the Jewish spokesmen say in reponse since Oslo? Nothing. Even if they are interviewed on radio or TV simultaneously with the Arab representative making these allegations, they never deny these allegations. In fact, since Sharon enthusiastically echoed Bush's desire for another Palestinian state, they too wax enthusiatic about it. As a result there is ever-growing public opinion in the world and in Israel itself that believes that what the Arabs say must be true.
Specifically with regard to the proposed unilateral disengagement, Israeli leaders appear keen to dismantle the settlements even to the point that they instruct Israel's official representatives to conceal from their own public the fact that settlements are legal. They behave out of character and in opposition to their earlier declared policy and against a long-standing political party manifesto and in the absence of some new pressure.
There are indications that the concealing of the legality of the settlements from public opinion in Israel and abroad is a deliberate device to facilitate the dismantling of the settlements by preventing public uproar. For example, about a year ago, long before Sharon announced his Gaza retreat, in the program called haarachat matzav in the second channel of Israel radio, Dr Alon Liel, who is a permanent guest of this program, said that Jewish settlements in the territories are illegal. Dr Liel has often expressed his antipathy to the settlements on Israeli radio, and he is not just anybody. Until not so long ago he was the general manager of Israel's MFA (the Hasbara agency). He is the person who should have explained to the world precisely the opposite of what he is saying. Generations of MFA personnel were able to speak the truth until Oslo began.
Given the government's policy of not combatting Arab lies and given their lack of eduction, most Israelis do indeed believe the settlements are illegal. Following the program, the head of correspondents of the Voice of Israel Radio was contacted and it was suggested he bring to this on-going weekly program an expert in international law to counteract the frequent attacks on the settlements by Dr Liel. Israel radio is a state run radio and their correspondents know what is expected from them. The response of the head of correspondents was that the legality of the settlements could not be mentioned because we have to prepare the nation for the dismantling of the settlements. This was well before Sharon's announcement.
The lower echelons of Israel MFA often say in private that they would like to say in public that Jewish settlements in Judea, Samaria and Gaza are legal according to international law (as they used to say until the beginning of Oslo), but they are not allowed to do so because of instructions from above. The change from a Peres administration to a Sharon administration had no effect on the inability of Israeli diplomats to say in public that the settlements are legal. Despite repeated application to the higher levels of the Israeli government, there is a stubborn refusal to change the policy and to return to the old policy that did not conceal the objective truth. It is not a question of appealing to "my country right or wrong"; it is simply objectively true that international law calls for the encouragement of settlements. Why is this self-defeating policy so stubbornly adhered to?
Inadequate military action
Israel does not take forceful military action such as, for example, destroying the villages of the suicide bombers and deporting the inhabitants of these villages to eastern Palestine. Demolishing a couple of villages would encourage peace and quiet. Alan Dershowitz, a distinguished professor of law has suggested solutions along these lines, which are still much milder than those adopted by other democracies. The British after all bombed Arab villages with their airforce when they wanted to quell the Arab revolt, and one is not even suggesting such drastic steps for now. Why not? The answer you are likely to get from the Israeli authorities is that world opinion would not allow such solutions to Israel. What would they do without recourse to 'world opinion'?
When it is suggested to the Israeli authorities that proper Hasbara could help the world understand such steps, this is rejected without an explanation. Proper Hasbara that would contribute to the world understanding Israel's need to take more drastic steps, would also include reminding the world how, for example, 630,000 innocent German civilians were killed by Allied bombers when the allies were already winning the war. This was not capricious; it was done to shorten the war and save the life of Allied soldiers. This was exactly the motivation behind the US using the atomic bomb in Japan. A normal nation tries to minimize the loss of life among both its civilians and soldiers.
Compare this with Israeli behaviour. When finally in April 2002 the Israeli army took some action, the army wanted the Air force in Jenin. In fact the job of the soldiers on the ground could have been done with one F-16 plane, and the life of 23 reservists would have been saved. But Ben Eliezer's - Sharon's minister of defence - response to the army was that for the sake of world public opinion the soldiers would have to fight on the ground, in a terrain where it was known in advance that traps and ambushes were prepared. At the same time the Israeli government did not allow enhancing our Hasbara to remind the world how other Western democracies acted and act in similar situations - a self-defeating paradox and a logical contradiction.
This is a typical situation: in one case, Israeli soldiers have given the Arab civilians the possibility to leave a house, and were reassured by these civilians that the house was empty. To minimize damage, Israeli soldiers entered the house physically themselves, instead of destroying the house from the outside. The father of a soldier that was killed by the terrorists inside the house walked in protest from Shilo to Jerusalem with a banner asking "why are the life of Achmed more dear than the life of my son?" And we repeat, this the typical situation with the IDF - a moral behaviour unparalleled in any other democracy. There has never been an army as moral as the Israeli army but it costs too high a price in dead Israeli soldiers. And the bitter irony is that many still believe that Jenin was a massacre of hundreds if not thousands of Arabs. The actual count was some 50 dead.
Vacillating on the settlements
The towns in the territories - the settlements - are in the heart of Israel. Gaza, Samaria and Judea are where Jewish history was acted out in Biblical times. One doesn't have to be religious to see their importance to the Jewish people. This is the physical setting where the soul of the Jewish people evolved. Yet many Leftists, who respect Islam and are meticulous in abiding by Muslim conventions and convictions, are cavalier about their own religion. They are willing to treat even the Temple Mount as real estate, to be given away to the Arabs, who continue to destroy archeological finds that confirm the association of the Jews and their land.
Ever since 1968, Israel governments have vacillated. Sometimes the government understood how important it was to develop the land; other times it froze growth, hoping they could swap the land for 'peace' with the neighboring Arab states. Until Oslo, the focus was on the real problem: the agression of the Arab states. After Oslo, the window narrowed and the emphasis was shifted from Israel and the Arabs to Israel and the Palestinian people.
The current fantasy is that giving up the settlements is somehow advantageous. It certainly simplifies getting weaponry to the PA, Hamas, Hezb'allah, and all the splinter groups, all bent on destroying Israel. It simplifies the life of the diplomats, who have had no success persuading the Arabs to desist from violence and acts of terrorism. They can now proceed with the Road Map. They can return to their usual way of dealing with Israel: squeeze Israel, ignore Arab behavior, except when the Arabs have the temerity to lash out at groups other than Israel. It makes it easier for the Arabs to threaten Israel's air space and water supply. Together with the fence, it coops up Israel, while letting the Arabs expand inside and outside of Israel. So what good does it do Israel to be cut off from its historic underpinnings?
Through all of this, the Arabs have never vacillated. They have come into Yesha illegally from the neighboring countries; they have developed settlements illegally. One wonders why, if living under Israeli rule is so terrible, why have they come?
The government's hypocritical and self-defeating behavior is further compounded by Sharon ignoring basic democratic principles. Given that there is no constitution to act as a brake and given that, aside from the obvious laws on criminality and torts, Israel's judiary is creative in developing rules as it goes along, Israel has survived by self-imposed personal constraints on what behavior is acceptable and what behavior violates the national image. It does not bode well for democracy that Sharon can be so arbitrary and capricious and get away with it. Having come to power on the basis of the Likud manifesto, it was only proper to carry out a poll restricted to the Likud party. Denying now both the manifesto and the results of the referendum is a very serious blow to the principle of democracy. It is only to be hoped that Likud politicians will be able to look beyond immediate, short-range, personal interest and find in themselves the mental resources to object to this total collapse of principle.
To sell the idea of expelling Jews from their homes in Yesha, the Government has promoted the (illusionary) belief that if Israel separates unilaterally from the Palestinian Arabs, and they, the Arabs, have their own land, there will be peace. No reason is given for expecting this magic transformation. It ignores that the Arabs - Palestinian, Saudi, Egyptian, Iranian, Iraqi - will continue to pursue their objective to destroy Israel. Outside countries and even Israel may see the Palestinian Arab goal as one of obtaining a state - self-determination is a good Western concept. Their leaders have a different focus: to ensure that any land they once conquered is free of anyone who isn't Muslim; and if non-Muslims are allowed, they must live as second-class non-citizens. Except now, with the Jews gone from Yesha, it will be easier for them to operate openly in building up a large store of deadly weaponry against Israel.
An evacuation from Gaza is a reward for terror and is bound to encourage further terror. It is only the Israeli presence in all of Western Palestine that enables Israel to prevent the smuggling of weapons and to prevent the organization of murderous attacks against its citizens. And the proximity of Arab and Jewish settlement has a beneficial value in that it may deter the use of WMD on the Jewish population. So the presence of Arab habitation next to a Jewish habitation is not an argument to remove the Jewish habitation. At a time of increasing fears from WMD, including from Iran's nuclear capability, a logical approach would entail explaining to the Israeli public and to the world at large the-greater-than-usual importance of densely settling Jews in the whole of Western Palestine and in Yesha in particular. An Arab settlement next to a Jewish one might increase the deterrence against the use of WMD (although Arabs do not seem adverse to wasting Arab lives to ensure that Jews die). Instead the government wants to do the opposite and concentrate Jews in a very limited area with a minimum amount of Arabs around so that the Jews will constitute a more attractive target. The evacuation of Gaza would be such a lamentable move.
The presence of Arab habitation has never been a reason to avoid Jewish settlement in the whole of history of Zionism. The Sharon-Olmert logic is not only antithetical to the spirit and the letter of international law, but it is against the spirit of the pioneering fathers and counterproductive to the existence and development of the state of Israel. It is likely to demoralize just the people who treasure Israel's history and believe it is entitled to live as a Jewish state.
Some Muslims indeed see such a "separation" and the creation of a purely Arab entity as a sign from God that he indeed wants them to exterminate the Jews, given that the Jews themselves are facilitating their own extermination. It is also clear that if the presence of Arab villages and towns is sufficient reason to deter Jewish settlement, in the future they will find many more places from which to remove Jews, in addition to Gaza.
The opposite of what they are doing. They ought to be shouting the truth: Jewish settlements in Yesha are legal. In point of fact, the United Nations organization is obligated to help develop Jewish settlements.
The absurdity of claiming that the settlements are illegal is shown, for example, by noting that Kfar Darom - a reconstructed Gaza settlement that P.M. Sharon proposes to dismantle - disappeared in 1948 only because of Arab agression. But nobody said before 1948 that it was illegal. Has the intervening Arab aggression between the original and the reconstructed Kfar Darom made it illegal? Of course not. In fact even if there was no Kfar Darom before 1948 and if there was no mandate by the League of Nations, the custom and the law in the world is that land acquired in a war of self-defence is not returned This principle of international law did not arise out of thin air. It resides in the heart of Western civilization.
With a straight face, Arabs point out there were no Jews on the West Bank when Israel conquered it in 1967, just Arabs. They neglect to mention that Jews lived there continuously for centuries except for the 19 years after Israel's War of Independence when Jordan controlled it. Jordan expelled the Jews from Samaria and Judea and the eastern part of Jerusalem and stacked the area with Arabs from all over the region.
Furthermore, even the (nonbinding) 242 U.N. resolution does not call for total withdrawal - and during the Oslo years Israel withdrew from more than 90% of the territories - and only in a context of total peace and to secure and recognized borders.
An appeal against a Jewish government that wants to transfer Jews away from their own land has a reasonable chance of success in an international court, or a British court. Indeed the Christian Zionists such as Winston Churchill, Loyd George, Lord Balfour and Orde Wingate were motivated by Jewish history in Palestine. Even now the BBC produces a multitude of historical, scientific, religious and archaeological programs on Jews in Palestine. For example, in a recent one on Jesus the BBC narrator says: "Pontus Pilate [the Roman governor] did not like the Jews so he settled in Caesaria instead of in Jerusalem which was the Jewish capital"; i.e., the BBC admits that already 2000 years ago Jerusalem was the Jewish capital. The program only mentions Romans and Jews in Palestine - Palestinian Arabs were conspicuous by their absence. It is not daily politics but the many examples like this are the true measure of Western civilization's automatic acceptance that "Palestine" is the land of the Jews.
In fact this concept was acceptable to Muslims. For example the Feisal-Weizmann agreement in 1919, concluded at the peace conference in Paris, refers to the "Arab State" (one only!) on the one hand and to its Jewish counterpart referred to as "Palestine." This forgotten agreement, which is also part of binding international legality, has to be read nowadays to be believed. It breathes with good intentions and mutual congratulations on both sides. For example it includes statements such as: "All necessary measures shall be taken to encourage and stimulate immigration of Jews into Palestine on a large scale, and as quickly as possible to settle Jewish immigrants upon the land through closer settlement and intensive cultivation of the soil." One is bound to ask: is it not what Gush Katif settlements are doing and thus fulfilling international legality? And is it not the case that the proposed evacuation of Jewish settlement by Sharon and Olmert is a transgression of this 1919 agreement signed in international setting by the Arab leadership? When Ben Gurion stated in the thirties that no Jewish government has the right to cede Jewish land in Palestine, he in fact complied not only with formal international law but also with a recognition arising from long Christian and Muslim-Arab tradition and commitment.
The illegality of the Road Map
International law explicitly encourages Jewish settlement in these areas. International law prescribes that Jewish settlement in these areas should be facilitated and carried out with great urgency and it is forbidden to delay or freeze Jewish settlement in these areas. International law also forbid the transference of this land to a foreign power since the land is destined for a Jewish state. These are the dictates of the mandate of the League of Nations. These rights of the Jewish people are valid. It is enshrined in the charter of the U.N. (article 80), and confirmed by the International Court of Justice, that rights of nations valid by virtue of a League of Nations mandate are preserved and remain valid upon the transition between the League and the U.N.
Hewing to international law, the settlements are legal. Pronouncements and actions to expunge them are illegal. Decrees and policy that promote giving the land to the Palestinian Arabs for a state are also not legal. Setting aside the question of the importance of the settlements, opposition to the Road Map arises from it being a transgression of law in general, and international law in particular, as well as a violation of basic common sense. If the Road Map is implemented - and Sharon's sudden disengagement policy seems to be furthering it - then the continuing obligations of the Mandate will be violated. Whereas the Road Map calls for the freezing of settlements and the dismantling of some, international law as expressed in the Mandate calls for the opposite, namely, for the facilitation and encouragemnt of Jewish settlements.
Gifting the land
It may be argued that Israel is entitled to give away what belongs to it just as an individual is entitled in law to give a gift. But here we come to the second major transgression of law and common sense arising from the Road Map. It is a principle of law that the donor of a gift shall do so from his free will and not under duress. A gift or a promise made under duress is not binding.
Duress is the main feature of the Road Map. The requirement, emanating from a campaign of terror against Israel, to create another Palestinian state in Palestine by December 2003 - a requiremnt that if fulfilled will irreversibly take away the national rights of the Jewish people that has been valid according to international law for almost a century - is unparalleled in the annals of nations. No nation has been asked to do anything like it. It also introduces a timescale that in itself constitutes a major source of duress. This is true in particular in view of Palestinian violations of all the Oslo requirements and the additional violence that erupted following Barak's generous offer, and also in view of decades of anti-Jewish violence in Palestine.
There should be enough time not only to conduct full internal Israeli discussions on the matter but also - if Israel were to unwisely decide that it is willing to consider making a gift of the little that remains of its national heritage as recognized by international law, for the sake of 'peace' - to check the sincerity of the other side before any further concessions are made. In view of past experience, this is of paramount importance.
The expression of sincerity would need to include a complete cessation of anti-Semitic incitement and the teaching (with success) of the Arab population that the Jews deserve at least one Jewish state, as is indeed also required by international law. Such a re-education program (which is comparable to the denazification program after WW2) would have to be maintained over a number of years, and not simply be a temporary tactical deception of the kind that happened at the beginning of Oslo and which made Israel give so much only to be rewarded by a much worse situation than existed at the beginning of the process.
Anything short of this would be the imposition on Israel of such a degree of duress that would make any subsequent Israeli commitments not binding in law.
The overriding principle of International Law is this: if a trustee ceases to be a trustee, the purpose of the trust and the rights it confers on the beneficiary persist. This applies whether the beneficiary of the trust is an individual or a nation. Indeed, the rights of nations obtained by virtue of a League of Nations mandate are enshrined in the Charter of the United Nations, and this has also been confirmed by the International Court of Justice.
The Mandate of the League of Nations on Palestine is not only compatible with the settlements, but actually calls for the encouragement and facilitation of "close settlement" by Jews on the lands of all of Western Palestine. The original Mandate included the Golan and Transjordan, but later Jewish national rights there were "withheld" or "postponed." The Mandatory took upon itself to build in Palestine the infrastructure needed for a Jewish national home (home was Max Nordau's term for State), which also involved facilitation of Jewish immigration to Palestine and the submission of an annual report to the Council of the League of Nations satisfying the Council that measures had been taken during the year to carry out the provisions of the Mandate. The Mandate forbids the ceding or leasing of the land destined for a Jewish state to the "Government of any foreign Power." All these rights of the Jewish people are currently still valid and binding in international law.
What is the overriding principle of international law in relation to Palestine? To answer this we observe that rights of nations that were obtained by virtue of a mandate of the League of Nations are still valid and this is indeed also enshrined in the Charter of the UN. This general principle was further confirmed by the International Court of Justice and applied for example in South West Africa.
Specifically the mandate for Palestine of the League of Nations includes the following:
"The Mandatory shall be responsible for placing the country under such political, administrative and economic conditions as will secure the establishment of the Jewish national home...The Mandatory shall be responsible for seeing that no Palestine territory shall be ceded or leased to, or in any other way placed under the control of the Government of any foreign Power...shall facilitate Jewish immigration...and shall encourage...close settlement by Jews on the lands, including State lands and waste lands not required for public purposes"
These Jewish national rights were later "postponed or withheld" in Transjordan (what is today called Jordan), which is also part of Palestine, the Palestine to which the original mandate refers. They were not postponed in any of the area west of the river Jordan, i.e., in all of Western Palestine (also referred to as Cisjordan). The mandate imposes a special urgency and does not allow any delay in the implementation of the Jewish state in Western Palestine. Thus Jewish settlement in all of Western Palestine is not only compatible with international law, but in fact international law calls for the encouragement of this settlement and explicitly does not allow the postponing of this duty.
It also explicitly does not allow the transfer of this land to any foreign non-Jewish Government. That this is the overriding principle is confirmed by leading professors of international law, for example by Professor Eugene Rostow (see e.g., http://www.think-israel.org/rostow.html) and Professor Julius Stone (see e.g., "Israel and Palestine," by Julius Stone, The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1981).
Any government that puts restrictions and delays on the Jewish settlement of Western Palestine, or worse, contemplates the transfer of parts of this land to a foreign government, or even worse, contemplating the transfer of Jews from this land instead of the obligatory to this land, is involved in a serious transgression of international law. This applies to a Jewish government as well. In such a case remedy should be sought in national and international courts.
Legality according to the PLO
In 1964 the Palestinian people was created, sired by the Arab League, midwifed by Egypt, and ruled by the PLO, which wrote a charter in which Article 1 stated:
Article 1. Palestine is an Arab homeland bound by strong Arab national ties to the rest of the Arab Countries and which together form the great Arab homeland.In this article and others, they vow to retrieve their land, the land that had become the Jewish state. Israel did not possess the West Bank in 1964. The PLO was talking about Israel 'proper.' Liberating 'Palestine" was to lead to unity among the Arab countries, to an Arab Nation.
They appealed to the Charter of the United Nations as justification for their aggression, which they called self-defense.
Article 16: The liberation of Palestine, from an international viewpoint, is a defensive act necessitated by the demands of self-defense as stated in the Charter of the United Nations. For that, the people of Palestine, desiring to befriend all nations which love freedom, justice, and peace, look forward to their support in restoring the legitimate situation to Palestine, establishing peace and security in its territory, and enabling its people to exercise national sovereignty and freedom.
But in Article 18, they rejected the Mandate to develop Palestine as a Jewish homeland that England received from the League of Nations, and thus, they were (unknowingly?) rejecting the UN's authority.
Article 18: The Balfour Declaration, the Palestine Mandate System, and all that has been based on them are considered null and void. The claims of historic and spiritual ties between Jews and Palestine are not in agreement with the facts of history or with the true basis of sound statehood. Judaism, because it is a divine religion, is not a nationality with independent existence. Furthermore, the Jews are not one people with an independent personality because they are citizens to their states.
This is a can of worms. Consider. Until 1918 the Ottoman Empire included the vast area that extended from the Sudan in Africa to Arabia and the Persian Gulf, an area populated by half a hundred ethnic groups, united only in that most of them spoke Arabic. Most of them were fiercely devoted to separate variants of Islam. They were ruled de facto mainly by local chieftains and owing allegiance mainly to their clans. Out of the middle eastern section of the Empire, England and France, when they took over the responsibility for the region, carved the present-day Arab states: Lebanon, Iraq, Syria, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Yemen and the Gulf States. The post war peace treaties (Versailles, Sevres, etc.) divided this huge chuck of the Ottoman Empire into independent states, and these actions were accepted by the League of Nations. If the Palestine Mandate spearheaded by England and issued by the League of Nations is null and void, what is legal about the other boundary decisions the League permitted? If the conquerors of the Ottoman Empire had no authority to prepare for a Jewish homeland, they had no authority to create the Arab states. Perhaps, we should start from scratch. Viewed in this light, carving Iraq into segments, one for the Kurds, one that should be part of Iran, and so forth, may be the thing to do.
The legality of the settlements is the keystone argument for both the settlements in particular and the Jewish state in general.
Israel is being pressured into disengaging from Biblical Israel. If they move out, the Arabs can develop the state envisioned by the Road Map, without having to abjure terrorism. Rather than fight back, it appears that Sharon's government has caved in.
It is certain that Israel's hasbara apparatus has been ordered not to uphold the legality of the settlements. Pretending that settlements are illegal makes it easier to uproot the settlements in the face of public opinion in Israel and abroad. If it is not a question of surrender to terror, and we also know that there was no real political pressure from where it counts to dismantle and retreat - surely no more pressure than during all the years of Israel's existence - then only the "illegality" of the settlements can be summoned to "justify" the uprooting of the settlements.
Such a dismantling involves not just buildings but the life of three generations or more that have made developing the area their life's work to benefit all of Israel. They are the human links to Israel's biblical past. Expelling them is a cruel and inhumane act by any standard of human rights. And only Jews are "selected" for the transfer - this is NOT an exchange of population - by a "Jewish" government, which is not even able to explain in a coherent way why it wants to do it so urgently, just now, and in opposition to a long-standing party manifesto for which it was elected.
Sharon's government has not considered that if it allows the abrogation of international law with regard to the settlements, how will it resist the 'reasonable arguments' that Israel itself has no right to exist?
Dr. Yoram Shifftan has published many articles on Israeli hasbara, in
publications such as Ha'aretz, Ma'ariv, Hatzofeh, Hamodia and Ha'Uma.
He has also presented a special series about hasbara on Arutz-7 radio.
In July 2003 he published a review of the status of Israel hasbara in
the article "Israeli Hasbara: A Nation Working Against Itself" in
Bernice Lipkin is editor of Think-Israel.
Dr. Yoram Shifftan has published many articles on Israeli hasbara, in publications such as Ha'aretz, Ma'ariv, Hatzofeh, Hamodia and Ha'Uma. He has also presented a special series about hasbara on Arutz-7 radio. In July 2003 he published a review of the status of Israel hasbara in the article "Israeli Hasbara: A Nation Working Against Itself" in Think-Israel.
Bernice Lipkin is editor of Think-Israel.
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